The Transformer header

Project overview

New Energy Centre night smallThe University is investing in infrastructure to ensure resilience and energy security for our world-leading multi-million pound research projects.

The new Transformer will provide an uninterrupted power supply to research experiments and ensure business continuity to the west of campus.

The energy centre will have the capacity to supply power and heat to a number of key University buildings. The new development will lower the cost of heat and electricity for the University.

The architects, Sheffield-based firm HLM, have created a bold design using materials to complement its setting, including Corten on the exterior walls. It received planning permission in May 2018 and construction began in April 2019.

More information

Project details

Project manager: Emel Kus-Senior

Contact: [email] [tel] 0114 222 9003

Architects: HLM Architects

Timescale: September 2018 - April 2020

Latest news

Partial closure of Arts Tower car park from 1 July 2019

We will be working to install pipes under the Arts Tower car park over the summer period. These pipes will form part of a new district heating network for the energy centre (The Transformer).

From 1 July until Wednesday 31 July 2019, all the parking spaces normally only available after 9am will be suspended and some of the category B spaces will be unavailable.

Deliveries from Western Bank will be managed and access routes maintained.

We apologise for any inconvenience caused. For information about alternative car parks, please visit our Parking services pages. 

Gas mains works on Winter Street and Bolsover Street (under the pavement)

Winter Street Fri 26/07/19 -Thu 15/08/19
Bolsover Street Fri 16/08/19 - Thu 12/09/19

Access to the Geography and Arts Tower car parks will be managed during these times. Please expect some disruption to traffic from Winter Street and Bolsover Street on to the site.

Closure of Back Lane - August 2019

Due to the installation of pipes along Back Lane, access to Back Lane will be controlled during August 2019.

As part of works for the Energy Centre, refuse compactors will be moved from the Back Lane behind Firth Court and near the Chemistry Labs to the landing next to Western Bank Library. This is planned for Mid May 2019.

  • Construction activities will start from Monday 8 April 2019. The ground will be prepared for drainage and concrete slab. During weeks 2 and 3, the contractor will carry out drainage works, fill and compact the ground in preparation for the concrete slab.
  • Beginning 18 March 2019: Installation of district heating pipework in the service ducts underground between Geography and Western Bank Library plantrooms. Majority of the works will be undertaken in the underground service ducts and plantrooms. There is expected to be no disruption to users of the Geography building.
  • 18/12/18: We have appointed a main contractor, Vital Energi. They will start on site on 7 January 2019.
  • Planning permission received on 22 May 2018.
  • In early 2018, we demolished the lecture theatre attached to Dainton building.
What is the planned duration of the project?

Construction is due to start April 2019 and complete in April 2020.

What work is taking place?

We have demolished a lecture theatre attached to the Chemistry North Building and we are constructing a new energy centre on this site. Work is taking place to install a district heating network to connect buildings on the Western Bank side of campus.

How will this affect my journeys around campus?

The Transformer will connect with 14 other plant rooms around Western Bank campus so, as well as the construction of the building, Western Bank campus will be affected by the digging of trenches to accommodate these connections. The majority of the excavation works in the Arts Tower car park have been completed over Summer 2019. Remaining excavation works on Back Lane and near Western Bank Library will be completed by 23 September 2019.

How will I benefit from this project?

All staff and students in the University will benefit as The Transformer ensures a reliable energy supply so our research projects are not interrupted.

How will this project affect people who are living and working nearby?

Residents and people working nearby will hear noise from the construction site. Noisy work such as breaking concrete should be completed in July-September 2019. We hope that noise will be minimised during the construction period by many of the units being put together off-site and brought in.

Once The Transformer is up and running, noise should be minimal. The design has focused heavily on minimising sound made by fans and the plant equipment.

How does the Transformer work?

The Transformer energy centre will consist of a CHP (combined heat and power) system to simultaneously generate heat and electricity for our buildings.

A CHP system works through the supply of high temperature heat from a gas-driven boiler. The high temperature heat drives a gas or steam turbine-powered generator to supply energy and the remaining heat is then used to heat buildings nearby.

Why do we need the Transformer?

Buildings such as the Arts Tower, Firth Court, and the Dainton building are currently supplied with heating by the Veolia District Energy Network. Veolia take unrecyclable residential waste that would otherwise be sent to landfill and burn this to create energy to heat a network of buildings in Sheffield.

Whilst the network is a great low-carbon initiative, it has had many costly and inconvenient faults over recent years. When the heating has failed in the past, we have relied on diesel boilers which are hugely expensive and have a high environmental impact. Disruption to our energy supply can cost significant amounts of money as well as potentially halting our ability to deliver world-leading research.

This new CHP will ensure energy security for our staff, students and research projects and provide a lower-carbon alternative to diesel generators.

Why are we investing in a power system that uses fossil fuel?

The gas CHP provides us with the security of supply that is crucial to protecting our research and teaching. A combined heat and power unit is currently the most efficient way of us fulfilling this requirement as not all excess heat is not lost. Gas has been chosen as it is a relatively affordable and secure source of energy which is often cleaner than other alternatives.

Is there an option to decommission The Transformer if a cleaner option becomes available?

We will continue to review our energy supply and investigate sustainable options whilst ensuring our energy supply.

What will you be doing to make sure heat isn’t being wasted?

We will be constantly monitoring heat levels to make sure we minimise the amount of excess heat emitted from the flue. There may be opportunities in the future to reuse any excess heat.

Will the energy centre emit harmful gases?

When selecting the fuel type, consideration has been given to harmful gases. Gas is one of the cleanest options due to lower levels of potentially harmful gases in its emissions compared to other alternatives such as biomass.

Why did you choose this location?

In order to ensure a secure energy and heating supply for our buildings, The Transformer needs to be in close proximity to critical buildings and campus. The location chosen was the only suitable site for the size of the energy centre.

Will the energy centre contribute to any academic research?

There may be opportunities to showcase the technology. Please contact Emel Kus-Senior for more information.

Will you be landscaping the area with any greenery?

The University’s landscape team is investigating opportunities for adding plants to the area.

Who will be operating the Transformer?

We will soon begin a tendering process to find an experienced and reliable operator for The Transformer.


The Transformer

The Transformer

New Energy Centre day

New Energy Centre night

New Energy Centre context

Contact us

Project enquiries: Project Manager Emel Kus-Senior, / 0114 222 9003

General enquiries: The EFM Help Desk will put you in touch with the right person, / 0114 222 9000